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Find out about: housing for migrants

Migrants with enough resources to pay for private housing are entitled to live wherever they choose in the UK. However, entitlement to housing assistance depends on immigration status.

Housing for asylum seekers

Most asylum seekers are destitute upon arrival in the UK, and are entitled to housing while their asylum claim is processed. This housing is separate from mainstream social housing provision and is provided through the Home Office.

An asylum seeker will usually be relocated to accommodation wherever it is available across the UK - this is known as 'dispersal'. They will be in 'Initial Accommodation' for the first few weeks - this is also known as Section 98 accommodation.

After this, housing will usually be provided in the same region until a final decision is made on their asylum claim - this is known as Section 95 accommodation.

If an asylum seeker is allocated Section 95 housing by the Home Office in the Yorkshire and Humber region, it is now provided by G4S Care and Justice Services [UK] Ltd through one of their subcontractors.

Asylum-seeking children who are alone in the UK [known as separated or unaccompanied children] are an exception to this general system. They are instead housed and supported by the local authority under the care of social services as ‘looked after’ children.

Adults who receive a positive asylum decision are classed as refugees and are no longer entitled to Home Office support [see 'Housing for refugees' below].

If an asylum seeker receives a negative asylum decision [a ‘refused asylum seeker’], they are expected to leave the UK. They may leave the UK by making their own arrangements, through the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme [VARRP], or be removed by the Home Office. A refused asylum seeker may be entitled to limited, short term support known as Section 4 if they meet certain criteria. Section 4 accommodation is also allocated according to availability, so it may not be in the same place where the individual was housed while their asylum claim was being processed.

Housing for asylum seekers must always meet Home Office standards.

Housing for refugees

An individual who receives a positive asylum decision and has refugee status is required to leave the accommodation they were allocated as an asylum seeker. Refugees have the same housing rights as UK citizens. A refugee who is homeless is entitled to apply for social housing from the local authority in which they received accommodation as an asylum seeker [this is known as their ‘local connection’ within homelessness legislation]. However, like anyone in the UK who presents themselves to a local authority as homeless, they must fulfil certain criteria to be prioritised for social housing; this may include, for example, those with children or those who have additional needs.

Housing for other migrants

Newly-arrived migrants tend to rent accommodation in the private sector. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many migrants will occupy cheaper,  private rented housing in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Migrants have different rights to social housing according to their immigration status. This is a complex and changing area, but as a general rule:

  • EEA nationals who have been in the UK for more than five years can access housing and homelessness services, but more recent arrivals may be subject to the ‘Habitual Residence Test’ to determine their eligibility. If they are not working they will not be eligible for these services.
  • Third country nationals with permanent residence or ‘indefinite leave to remain’ can apply for housing and homelessness services, but those with temporary or ‘limited leave to remain’ cannot.

There are various exceptions to these principles, such as households with children or vulnerable adults, or households where individual members have different immigration statuses.

People with No Recourse to Public Funds [NRPF]

Local authorities can advise destitute people from abroad who have no entitlement to welfare or Home Office support. In a minority of cases, they may provide support which can include housing. The national NRPF network looks at the statutory response to people with NRPF - this is hosted by Islington Council. Yorkshire and Humber also has a regional network to address NRPF issues. 

More detailed information



Page last updated: 31/10/2013 15:42:59

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